Computer control of laboratory experiments

Applied Physics, First Cycle
1. year
Hours per week – 2. semester:

Inscription in the current school year.

Content (Syllabus outline)

Practical use of basic measuring instruments in electronics. Voltmeter, ammeter, ohmmeter, oscilloscope. Computer-control of instruments and data acquisition.

Arduino microcontrollers. Installation of integrated development environment and libraries, programming different microcontrollers, connecting simple external sensors and actuators.

Basics of 3D printing. Presentation of various 3D printing technologies (FDM, SLA, SLS, LOM). Computer-aided design (CAD) of mechanical parts. Practical production of parts using fused deposition modeling (FDM) and stereolithography (SLA).
Computer automation of a physics experiment. Design and construction of mechanical parts using commercially available and specifically 3D printed components. Development of software for the microcontroller. Development of software for the PC. Execution of the experiment.

Computer automation in industry. Basics of the LabView graphical programming environment. Programming of an industrial DAQ module.


• G. Organtini, "Physics Experiments with Arduino and Smartphones", Springer, 2021, ISBN: 3030651398
• L. M. Herger and M. Bodarky, "Engaging students with open source technologies and Arduino," 2015 IEEE Integrated STEM Education Conference, Princeton, NJ, USA, 2015, doi: 10.1109/ISECon.2015.7119938
• J. Essick, "Hands-On Introduction to LabVIEW for Scientists and Engineers", Oxford University Press, 2018, ISBN: 0190853069
• Spletna stran
• Priročniki za programsko opremo

Objectives and competences

This course provides practical knowledge that an applied physicist needs when working in a development or research laboratory. The emphasis is on using computers as tools for automating measurements or controlling devices.

Objectives: Introduction to data acquisition protocols of basic electronic instruments. Overview of the open-source Arduino environment and its use in a physics laboratory. Introduction to the basics of 3D printing. Designing a physics experiment - from idea to practical implementation. Presentation of computer automation in an industrial environment.

Competencies: Ability to solve problems using internet and professional literature. Understanding of simple electronic circuits and data sheets. Ability to control devices using (micro-)computers in the Arduino environment. Knowledge of the basics of 3D printing and the ability to design and print simple 3D parts. Ability to independently design and conduct a simple computer-assisted physics experiment.

Intended learning outcomes

Knowledge and understanding: Understanding the proper use of basic electronic measuring instruments and ways of connecting them to a computer. Knowledge of the basics of the Arduino programming environment and its use for sensing. Understanding the basics of 3D printing and its limitations. Knowledge of designing computer-supported physics experiments. Understanding the basics of the LabView programming environment.

Application: Mastering the interaction between computers and other devices in the laboratory is indispensable for applied physicists. The knowledge gained in this course will not only be used throughout their studies but also in their future careers.

Reflection: Without extensive computer use, work in modern physics laboratories is impossible.

Transferable skills: The skill of problem-solving using domestic and foreign literature and the internet.

Learning and teaching methods

Lectures, laboratory exercises, demonstration experiments, homework assignments, consultations.


Homework assignments.
Written exam
Grades: 5 (negative), 6-10 (positive), in accordance with the University of Ljubljana Statute.

Lecturer's references

ŽUNTAR, Timotej, LIČEN, Matjaž, KUZMAN, Drago, OSTERMAN, Natan. Real-time imaging of monoclonal antibody film reconstitution after mechanical stress at the air-liquid interface by Brewster angle microscopy. Colloids and surfaces. B, Biointerfaces. [Print ed.]. Oct. 2022, vol. 218, art. no. 112757
MLINARIČ, Nika, OSTERMAN, Natan. Proof-of-concept experiment of microfluidic flow sensor based on microcavity-secondary-flow observation. IEEE sensors journal. [Print ed.]. 2021, vol. 21, iss. 5, str. 5871-5878
STERGAR, Jošt, OSTERMAN, Natan. Thermophoretic tweezers for single nanoparticle manipulation. Beilstein journal of nanotechnology. 2020, vol. 11, str. 1126-1133
OSTERMAN, Natan, DERGANC, Jure, SVENŠEK, Daniel. Formation of vortices in long microcavities at low Reynolds number. Microfluidics and nanofluidics. 2016, issue 2, art. no. 33, str. 1-10
OSTERMAN, Natan, BRAUN, Dieter. Thermooptical molecule sieve on the microscale. Applied physics letters. [Print ed.]. 2015, vol. 106, no. 7, str. 073508 -1-073508 -5